METHODS: The performance of the point-of-care Xpert HIV-1 viral load assay was evaluated against the Abbott RealTime PCR m2000rt system. A total of 96 plasma specimens ranging from 2.5 log10 copies ml(-1) to 4.99 log10 copies ml(-1) and proficiency testing panel specimens were used. Precision and accuracy were checked using the Pearson correlation co-efficient test and Bland-Altman analysis.
RESULTS: Compared to the Abbott RealTime PCR, the Xpert HIV-1 viral load assay showed a good correlation (Pearson r=0.81; P<0.0001) with a mean difference of 0.27 log10 copies ml(-1) (95 % CI, -0.41 to 0.96 log10 copies ml(-1); sd, 0.35 log10 copies ml(-1)).
CONCLUSION: Reliable and ease of testing individual specimens could make the Xpert HIV-1 viral load assay an efficient alternative method for ART monitoring in clinical management of HIV disease in resource-limited settings. The rapid test results (less than 2 h) could help in making an immediate clinical decision, which further strengthens patient care.